Betfred Expanding into Spanish Online Casino and Sports Betting Market

  • Betfred has secured licenses to operate an online casino and sportsbook in Spain
  • New operations will be based in Ceuta, which enjoys further tax rate concessions
  • Expansion will contribute to Spain's reliance on the gambling sector to aid its struggling economy
Betfred betting shop
Betfred is moving into the online casino and sports betting market in Spain and has opened a new base in Ceuta

Licensed for Spanish market

UK bookmaker Betfred has won approval to expand its operations into the Spanish market. The move is part of its overall plan to expand its global profile. The company will be basing its Spanish operations in Ceuta.

Spain’s gaming regulator, the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ), has awarded Betfred the appropriate licenses that will allow it to offer online casino gaming and an online sports betting platform there. Betfred has hired well-respected e-gaming and sports betting software provider OPTIMA for its sportsbook and player account management.

According to Betfred Group’s chief operating officer Mark Stebbings, the company is excited about this expansion. Spaniards are very enthusiastic about sports, with football being a mainstay in the country. Betfred believes it has the proper experience to play a major part in Spain’s growing gambling market.

The Group already has operations in Gibraltar, but the new operations hub in the city of Ceuta marks an important move. Uncertainty over Brexit is affecting Gibraltar’s future for many types of commerce. Ceuta will provide a stable and certain base for Betfred’s Spanish operations.

Cheaper taxes in Ceuta

There has been no indication as to whether these new platforms will operate under the Betfred brand, or if the company will launch a more localized brand. With recent tax cuts for gambling operators, a number of established gambling companies have been looking to expand into the Spanish market. The tax rate for online gambling revenues is dropping to 20% from 25%.

Ceuta, a Spanish autonomous territory on the border of northern Morocco, has gotten permission from the government to offer even lower rates for gambling companies, as well as cutting corporate tax and VAT rates. This means the tax rate for gambling revenues in the city is 10%, with a corporate tax of 12.5%. Unsurprisingly, this is a massive draw for gambling operators.

Betfred expands again

Betfred was founded by Peter and Fred Done in 1967 in Salford, England. It was originally called Done Bookmakers. Over the years, the company acquired a number of smaller chains of bookmakers. Currently, it owns about 1,600 retail bookmaker shops across Great Britain.

In 2004 the company was renamed Betfred, simultaneously launching its online platform for sports betting, casino gaming, lotto, bingo, virtual sports, and poker. It set up an in-house television channel for horse racing in 2013 that can be viewed in all its shops.

There were widespread rumors that Betfred co-owner Fred Done was looking to purchase Manchester United FC as part of a consortium known as the Red Knights, but this proved to be unfounded.

The company is now looking farther afield to the American market. It is working with a Las Vegas consulting firm to help with its US expansion.

Spanish gambling undergoing change

The Spanish economy has been struggling ever since the Great Recession. Many experts believe the gambling sector could be a great source of revenue for the country.

Youth unemployment figures are around 30%, and more than 10% of Spain’s population is living below the poverty line. A lot of key business sectors are stagnant, but the gambling sector is still going strong.

Gambling has always been a popular pursuit in Spain. The lottery is extremely popular, with many of its proceeds going towards the Catholic Church as well as a number of charities.

There are currently 20 commercial casinos in Spain, with gambling revenues hitting record-breaking levels in recent years. With the cuts to taxes for operators, there will be more competition and much more choice for bettors.

However, there is opposition to the expansion of gambling. One of the country’s ombudsmen is calling for a blanket ban on gambling advertising. Francisco Fernandez Marugan has pointed to Italy, which implemented such a ban this year.

It appears that a watered-down advertising ban could be on the cards. The Spanish finance minister proposed a similar curtailment of advertising in October 2018, as is the case with the tobacco industry.

This would see a ban on gambling ads on broadcast media at times when underage people may be watching or listening. There would also be a ban on sporting events having gambling ads and a ban on celebrity endorsements of gambling companies.

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